Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

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Solicitors Disciplinary TribunalDECISIONSTimothy Nigel Vane HusbandsAdmitted 1992: Application 8126/2000: Rehearing, 19 September 2000: reasons, 27 November 2000On 11 July 2000 the SDT ordered the respondent, of 2 Petch's Cottages, Liverton, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland TS13 4TD, who practised on his own account, to be suspended from practice for an indefinite period and to pay 1,271 costs.

The respondent, who had not attended the hearing owing to a mistake as to its date, was granted a rehearing by the SDT and was ordered to pay the applicant's costs.

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At the rehearing, the SDT suspended the respondent from practice for an indefinite period from 19 September 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had failed to comply with professional undertakings; he had failed to reply to correspondence and telephone calls from a bank, other solicitors and the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS); and he had failed promptly and thoroughly to investigate a client's complaint.

The respondent was ordered to pay 555 costs (this being the balance of the costs not subject to the earlier order).Thomas William Timothy Wells and Christopher Paul ConnorApplication 8135/2000: Hearing, 12 September 2000: reasons, 30 October 2000The SDT imposed a penalty of 2,500 on Mr Wells (admitted in 1983), of 145-147 Town St, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 5BL, and a penalty of 2,500 on Mr Connor (admitted in 1979) of the same address, who practised in partnership together, for unbefitting conduct in that they had failed to comply with a decision of the professional regulation casework sub-committee (claims in one matter to be made to the legal aid board within 14 days); and they had failed to answer correspondence from the legal aid board and the OSS promptly (or at all).

Many communications had gone unanswered, but not all.

Shortly before the hearing, the respondents had given notice of the outcome of the outstanding matter.

The respondents were ordered to pay 2,084 costs on a joint and several basis.Roger BerwickAdmitted 1975: Application 8141/2000: Hearing, 2 November 2000: reasons, 18 December 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of 24 Gilbert St, London W1Y 1RJ, who had practised in a partnership and later as a consultant, to be struck off the Roll on 2 November 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had continued to act for two clients where there had been (or might have been) a conflict of interests between them; he had failed to disclose material information to two clients (lending institutions); although receiving instructions from a third party purporting to represent two clients or prospective clients, the respondent had not obtained written (or any) instructions from them that they wished him to act, or taken appropriate steps to confirm their instructions; and he had practised uncertificated, contrary to s.1A of the Solicitors Act 1974.

The respondent was continued from page 53ordered to pay costs (to be assessed).Anup Singh ChoudryAdmitted 1980: Application 8143/2000: Hearing, 31 October 2000: reasons, 8 December 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of 17 Cornwood Close, London N2 0HP, who had practised on his own account, to be struck off the Roll on 31 October 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had lodged a bill of costs for taxation that he knew (or ought to have known) was excessive and/or improper and/or not lodged in good faith; in support of that bill of costs he had lodged pro-forma invoices and correspondence that he knew (or ought to have known) were false and/or misleading; in taxation proceedings he had attempted to mislead the court; and he had acted in breach of his duty to the court.

The SDT commented that this was a sad case; the respondent had suffered personal difficulties and had practised successfully since 1980 without any blemish in his career; but no explanation had been offered for his extraordinary behaviour.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs (to be assessed).Charles Richard William PeatAdmitted 1979: Application 8149/2000: Hearing, 17 October 2000: reasons, 4 December 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of Sirius, Cheselbourne, Dorchester DT2 7NJ, who had practised as a sole practitioner, to be struck off the Roll on 17 October 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had failed to disclose material information to a client (a lending institution) in breach of his duty; and he had continued to act for two clients (the lending institution and its borrowers) when there had been (or might have been) a conflict of interests between them.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs (to be assessed).David Frederick RawlingsAdmitted 1972: Application 8151/2000: Hearing, 28 September 2000: reasons, 27 November 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, formerly of 48 Parkhurst Rd, Bexhill, East Sussex, who had practised in a partnership, to be struck off the Roll on 28 September 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had dishonestly (or improperly) misappropriated client money; he had caused false entries to be made in his accounts; he had improperly withdrawn money from client account, contrary to rules 7 and 8 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1991, and had used it for his own benefit or for that of other clients; he had failed to maintain proper and accurate accounts, contrary to r.11 of the 1991 rules; he had failed to pay client money into client account, contrary to r.3 of the 1991 rules; he had failed to act in the best interests of his client, contrary to r.1 of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990; he had failed to maintain at all times his good repute and that of the profession, contrary to r.1 of the 1990 rules; he had acted (or had continued to act) where a conflict had arisen between his interests and those of a client; he had acted for all parties in a transaction involving the grant of a private mortgage/loan, contrary to r.6 of the 1990 rules; and he had acted in breach of his duty of good faith to other solicitors, namely his partners, in connection with the grant of security over partnership property without consent.

The application against the respondent was heard together with an application for an order under s.43 of the Solicitors Act 1974 against a clerk employed by the firm (application 8154 [2001] Gazette, 25 January, 56.

The respondent was ordered to pay nine-tenths of the costs (12,391) and the clerk was ordered to pay one-tenth.David John WrightAdmitted 1971: Application 8157/2000: Hearing, 26 September 2000: reasons, 27 November 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of 47/51 South St, Lancing, West Sussex BN15 8AW, who practised in a partnership, to pay a penalty of 2,500 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had misled a client by preparing a completion statement which misrepresented the manner in which client funds had been disbursed; he had acted in a conflict of interests by accepting instructions from a client to make a misrepresentation to another client; and, notwithstanding that he knew that a conflict of interests had arisen between two clients, he had failed to ensure that one of the clients received separate legal representation on the execution of a deed of gift in favour of the other.

The SDT commented that the respondent's actions had been an aberration arising out of one mistake from which he had not profited personally, and which he had lived to regret.

The respondent was ordered to pay 1,500 costs.Michael John Harvey and Michael MendozaApplications 7856/1999, 8163/2000: Hearing, 21 September 2000: reasons, 28 November 2000The SDT ordered Mr Harvey (admitted in 1993), of 74 George St, Luton LU1 2BD, who practised on his own account, to pay a penalty of 4,000 for failing to keep properly written-up accounts, contrary to r.11 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1991; for improperly withdrawing money from client account, contrary to rules 7 and 8 of the 1991 rules; and for unbefitting conduct in that he had failed to exercise proper supervision over a member of his admitted staff.

Mr Harvey was ordered to pay 608 costs, plus 273 (the costs of the investigation accountant).

The SDT ordered Mr Mendoza (admitted in 1974) of 11 Oakleigh Gdns, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 8AE, who had practised on his own account until May 1993, who subsequently purported to work as an unqualified clerk to Mr Harvey, and whose name remained on the Roll but who did not hold a practising certificate at the material time, to be struck off the Roll on 21 September 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had practised uncertificated; he had acted in conveyancing transactions when he knew or believed that they involved mortgage fraud; he had failed to act in the best interests of lending institution clients by withholding material information from them; and he had acted in breach of r.6 of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990.

In March 1993, the SDT had suspended Mr Mendoza from practice for two years from May 1993 for failing to keep properly written-up accounts (decision 5200 [1993] Gazette, 14 July, 32).

Mr Mendoza was ordered to pay 5,480 costs plus 2,457 (the costs of the investigation accountant).Christopher Martin DunhamApplication 8178/2000: Hearing, 3 October 2000: reasons, 1 December 2000The SDT imposed a penalty of 4,000 on the respondent, of Trinity Ho, Trinity Rd, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 1JB, for unbefitting conduct, in that he had failed to reply to correspondence from the OSS; and he had failed to comply with a direction from the client relations office of the OSS following a finding of inadequate professional services.

The SDT noted that the respondent had taken steps, albeit belated, to comply with the direction; and he had taken up employment as an assistant solicitor with a firm which supported him and had confirmed his competence.

In October 1997, the SDT had imposed a penalty of 3,000 on continued from page 55the respondent for failing to reply to correspondence and for failing to deliver up deeds and documents promptly (application 7384/1997 [1998] Gazette, 14 January, 28).

Should similar allegations be substantiated against the respondent at some future date, he would be unlikely to be treated so leniently.

He was ordered to pay 1,330 costs.John Paul Clayton WildAdmitted 1979: Application 8182/2000:Hearing, 19 September 2000: reasons, 27 November 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of 11 Bowland Close, Mickleover, Derby DE3 5SP, who had practised in a partnership until August 1999, to be struck off the Roll on 19 September 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had used client funds for the purposes of other clients and for his own purposes.

The respondent was ordered to pay 4,947 costs.Malcolm Vincent Robert McDonaldAdmitted 1982: Application 8184/2000: Hearing, 5 October 2000: reasons, 4 December 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of 18 Redlands Park, Redlands, Bristol BS6 6SB, who at the material times had not been working as a solicitor, to be suspended from practice for an indefinite period on 5 October 2000 for unbefitting conduct, in that he had been convicted of driving with excess alcohol and fined 110; he had been made the subject of an order of conditional discharge for 12 months for being drunk and disorderly in a public place; and he had behaved in a manner unbefitting a solicitor.

The SDT had seen a psychiatric report and had concluded that the respondent's bouts of drinking were part and parcel of a mental illness, for which he had accepted help.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs (to be assessed).Kenneth William BrooksAdmitted 1982: Application 8192/2000: Hearing, 5 October 2000: reasons, 4 December 2000The SDT reprimanded the respondent, of c/o Unit 1, Des Roches Square, Whitney, Oxfordshire OX8 6BE, who practised in a partnership, for unbefitting conduct, in that he had acted where there had been a conflict of interests by failing to ensure that a client had received independent advice before granting a loan to him; he had failed to pay client money into client account, contrary to r.3 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1991; and where instructions had been given to new solicitors in an administration matter, he had failed to advise the new solicitors of the existence of assets which had been within his knowledge and had failed expeditiously to pass all relevant papers/files to the new solicitors.

The respondent had done a lot of work for a client for which he had not charged.

Although the respondent had misdirected himself, no one had suffered in any way.

The complainant to the OSS had been satisfied with the respondent's explanations and had not pursued the complaint.

The respondent was ordered to pay 2,453 costs.Sukheel Kaur Goel and Eman OmarApplication 8194/2000: Hearing, 5 October 2000: reasons, 4 December 2000The SDT ordered Ms Goel (admitted in 1992), of 779 Harrow Rd, Wembley, Middlesex HA0 2LW, and Ms Omar (admitted in 1997), of 24 Nutford Place, London W1H 5YN, who practised in partnership together, each to pay a penalty of 2,500 for unbefitting conduct, in that they had failed to ensure that their firm was properly supervised in accordance with the minimum standards, contrary to r.13 of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990.

They were ordered to pay 3,600 costs on a joint and several basis.Stephen Michael Andrew ThomasAdmitted 1981: Application 8204/2000: Hearing, 24 October 2000: reasons, 27 November 2000The SDT ordered the respondent, of c/o P O Box 7, Pontyclun, Mid-Glamorgan CF72 9XN, who practised on his own account, to be suspended from practice for six months on 24 October 2000 for failing to pay client money into client account, contrary to r.3 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1991; for allowing legal aid funds in respect of unpaid professional disbursements to remain in office account, contrary to r.5(a) of those rules; for improperly withdrawing money from client account, contrary to rr 7 and 8, and using it for his own purposes or for that of other clients; and for failing to keep properly written-up accounts, contrary to r.11.

The SDT commented that the respondent had been guilty of bad practice and maladministration, but had not been guilty of dishonesty.

The respondent was ordered to pay 6,141 costs.

The SDT agreed to suspend the filing of its order for 28 days; the order was filed on 21 November 2000.Malcolm Radcliffe, William Tyler, Paul Guppy, Ralph Harris, Alan Kiddle, Peter Mair, Charles Osbourne, Peter Hardingham, Alan Coles, John Adams, James Collins, Alec Crombie, Maura Gannon, Robin Hambly, Nigel Arthur Stewart Jones, Graham Moore, Sheldon Pumprey and Timothy SaltApplication 7795/1998: Hearing, 2 October, 7 November 2000: reasons, 16 January 2001The SDT reprimanded Mr Radcliffe, Mr Tyler, Mr Guppy, Mr Harris, Mr Kiddle, Mr Osbourne, Mr Hardingham, Mr Coles, Mr Adams, Mr Collins, Mr Crombie, Ms Gannon, Mr Hambly, Mr Jones, Mr Moore, Mr Pumprey and Mr Salt formerly of Macauley Ho, 10 Friar Lane, Leicester LE1 5QD, who had practised in partnership together, for a breach of r.1 of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990, in that an industrial tribunal had ruled that they had discriminated against the applicant on grounds of race in contravention of the Race Relations Act 1976.

Each of those respondents was ordered to pay 1/18th of the costs (to be assessed).

No order was made against Mr Mair, other than an order to pay 1/18th of the costs.

At the opening of the hearing the applicant withdrew the allegation against another partner, and was ordered to pay 400 costs to that partner.

The SDT dismissed the allegations against three salaried partners who had no management responsibility at the material times; but declined to differentiate between equity partners who were members of the firm's management committee and those who were not; and it noted that Mr Mair (on whom no disciplinary sanction was imposed) had raised concerns regarding the applicant with the management committee, without taking those concerns as far as he might have done.

The SDT said that solicitors as officers of the court must abide by the law and be seen to do so.

It accepted the view of the industrial tribunal that the respondents did not intend considerations of race to affect their decisions and in respect of the applicant they had not been deliberately racially discriminatory; accordingly, their resulting professional misconduct fell at the lower end of the scale.

The real mischief had been a general and incomplete knowledge and understanding of anti-discrimination laws.

The SDT added that it regarded racial discrimination as serious professional misconduct liable to attract the gravest sanctions; but in this case the discrimination had not been intentional, the underlying reasons were the firm's financial difficulties at the time, and the discrimination had occurred mainly due to absence of appropriate procedures.

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